Two decades after he was killed in the 9/11 twin towers terror attack, Mychal Judge should be proclaimed a saint, say his supporters.
Fr Mychal died in the World Trade Centre as he prayed in the north tower’s lobby – he was crushed by debris falling from the south tower.
But the 68-year old Franciscan priest didn’t have to be there.
He had hurried to the scene with colleagues from the New York City Fire Department.
He was their chaplain but became the first certified fatality of the attacks. The photograph of his body being carried out of the rubble was broadcast around the world.
Fr Mychal was a gay man who, in later life, didn’t hide his sexuality. He was also very open about his battle with alcoholism and the help he received from Alcoholics anonymous.
He was known for his work with the homeless and other living on the margins of society.
At the peak of the AIDS crisis Fr Mychal founded a ministry to those living with the condition, recruiting volunteers to visit hospital patients when others were afraid to do so.
Jesuit priest, James Martin, told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that Mychal Judge showed “you can be gay and holy".
Fr Martin said: “Father Judge's selflessness is a reminder of the sanctity that the Church often overlooks in LGBTQ people.”
And in a blog published today (11 Sept) to mark the 20th anniversary of Mychal Judge’s death, New Ways Ministry is calling for the priest to be declared a saint.
“The time has come for the Catholic Church to officially recognise him as a saint by canonising him,” says editor Francis DeBernardo.
“New Ways Ministry is announcing today that it will be seeking individuals and organisations to form an association to do the work and raise the funds to make the canonisation happen.”
The organisation has been approached twice by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Cause of Saints to help find people who knew Mychal Judge personally.
• In 2017 Pope Francis proclaimed a new pathway to sainthood – recognition of those who sacrifice their lives while helping others.